A proposed ordinance regarding wind turbines in Penn Forest Township is consistent with many recommendations of a state ordinance that is already in place, officials say.
On Tuesday, the Carbon County Planning Commission reviewed the Penn Forest Township’s proposed zoning ordinance regarding wind turbines.
Two applications have been made by Atlantic Wind for a wind farm on property owned by Bethlehem Water Authority. The first application for 37 turbines was deemed approved and is working through the appeals process. In the meantime, Atlantic Wind filed a second application for 28 turbines on the same section of land.
Ivan O. Meixell, county planner, said the amendments for the zoning ordinance are “consistent with many of the recommendations set forth in the model ordinance for wind energy facilities in Pennsylvania and those of surrounding communities that have adopted their own ordinances regarding wind turbines and wind energy facilities.
“However, we believe that additional revisions/additions are required … regarding wind turbines to establish a standard for uniform conformance and to provide safeguards and consistent standards for the installation and maintenance of wind turbine facilities.”
Meixell said the areas of the amendment that need further review include: permitting; public roads regarding the route of travel for bringing in the turbines; liability insurance; securing the site; discontinued use of a turbine; decommissioning and removal of turbines; noise; signal interference; on-site transmission; and power purchase agreements.
Following Meixell’s comments, attorney Debra Shulski of Riley Riper Hollin and Colagreco of Exton, representing Atlantic Wind, briefly addressed the board.
She said she was happy to see two points in the review addressed by the commission.
“The ordinance as stated has no standard with how to measure sound,” she said. “Currently, the way it is written, it cannot be complied with based on what they’re saying in there.”
Shulski also said that the height restrictions in the current ordinance make for “exclusionary zoning” because there are no manufacturers that construct turbines less than 300 feet in height anymore.
The proposed plans call for either 525-foot or approximately 600-foot-tall turbines.
Members of the public who were in attendance tried to address Shulski’s comments, but were told that the planning commission is only an advisory board to municipalities and would not entertain debate discussions.
The commission’s review will now be sent to Penn Forest Township for inclusion with the discussion on the proposed amendment.
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